Israel, reeling from the deadliest attack in half a century, formally declared war on Hamas Sunday as the conflict’s death toll surged above 1,000 after the Palestinian militant group launched a massive surprise assault from Gaza.
Oil prices rallied while the dollar and yen advanced Monday after Hamas launched a shock attack on Israel at the weekend, sparking fresh concerns about tensions in the Middle East.
The crisis fanned concerns about supplies of crude from the region at a time when supply worries are already high owing to Saudi Arabia and Russia’s output cuts.
It has also renewed fears about the impact on inflation, with energy costs a key driver of spiking prices, giving a fresh headache to central banks as they try to ease up on interest rate hikes to avoid recessions.
The surprise attack and Israel’s declaration of war in response to it have left more than 1,000 dead and raised concerns that a potential broadening of the conflict could draw in the United States and Iran.
“Key for markets is whether the conflict remains contained or spreads to involve other regions, particularly Saudi Arabia,” said ANZ Group’s Brian Martin and Daniel Hynes.
“Initially at least, it seems markets will assume the situation will remain limited in scope, duration, and oil-price consequences. But higher volatility can be expected.”
Both main contracts surged more than five percent in early Asian business before easing back as the day wore on.
However, SPI Asset Management’s Stephen Innes warned: “Historical analysis suggests that oil prices tend to experience sustained gains after the Middle East crises.
“Meanwhile, stocks tend to eventually recover and trend higher after an initial period of volatility. Safe-haven assets like gold and Treasurys, which initially see gains during such crises, tend to fade from their initial price spikes as the situation stabilises.
“But with Middle East analysts considering this to be a pivotal moment for Israel, the view looks incendiary in any current scenario.”
A decidedly risk-off mood also saw investors push into the safety of the dollar, which was up against the pound and euro, as well as the Australian and New Zealand dollars.
The yen, considered one of the safest currencies, strengthened against the greenback, though it still remains locked around 11-month lows.
Gold, another key haven, gained around one percent.
Equity markets were mixed, with Shanghai dropping on its first day back after a week-long holiday as investors continue to fret over the stuttering Chinese economy.
There were also losses in Mumbai, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok and Wellington, though Hong Kong rose in shortened trade, having been closed in the morning owing to a typhoon.
Sydney and Jakarta eked out gains. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.
London edged up while Paris and Frankfurt were lower.
The tepid performance came despite a rally on Wall Street, where traders welcomed data showing a forecast-busting jump in new jobs but wage growth slowing.
The “Goldilocks” figures — neither too strong nor too weak — lifted optimism the world’s top economy can avoid a recession even as the Federal Reserve keeps rates elevated.
Still, there are worries the bank will hike one more time before the end of the year, with officials determined to bring inflation to heel and keep it at their two percent target.
Nigerian Lady Strangled To Death In UK
The family of a former ophthalmic nurse at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Taiwo Owoeye, who was found dead in her home in Suffolk, United Kingdom, has expressed sadness over her death.
The PUNCH learnt that Taiwo was allegedly strangled to death by her husband, David Abodunde on Tuesday, November 28.
It was gathered that the mother of three who was also a nurse in the UK had reported a case of an assault by her husband to the police on Monday, November 27.
READ ALSO: British Poet Benjamin Zephaniah Is Dead
The police, upon visiting their apartment the following day, found Taiwo lying on the floor of the living room motionless. Efforts to revive her, however, proved abortive as she was declared dead by the paramedics who arrived at the scene.
Taiwo’s husband who also was said to be inside the apartment with her was thereafter arrested on suspicion of her murder.
The couple got married in 2016. However, the late Taiwo relocated to the UK in 2022 and was later joined by her husband earlier this year.
The deceased’s brother, Alex Owoeye, who mourned her passing in a Facebook post claimed that David was declared the sole murderer after an investigation carried out by the police.
He wrote, “This is to officially announce the painful exit of my dear sister, Nurse Owoeye Taiwo Morenikeji, married to Abodunde David Olubunmi of Ipoti Ekiti. According to the Suffolk Police in the UK and the available documents and records sent to us via mail and direct conversations from the UK Police, after thoroughly conducted investigations, despite being caught in the act, he (the husband) was declared the sole murderer of his wife (my sister).”
Owoeye noted that the three children of the couple were currently being taken care of by the UK social services.
He also urged his family members to keep calm while assuring them that justice would be served in due course.
Another relative, Opeyemi Owoeye, also wrote on her Facebook page, “She was killed by her own very husband (Abodunde Bunmi David), no peace for the wicked. Justice for Owoeye Taiwo.”
Reacting to the news of her death, another Facebook user, Olabanji Fabiyi, described it as heart-wrenching.
He wrote, “The recent tragic news of Taiwo Owoeye Abodunde murdered by her husband in Suffolk, United Kingdom, is profoundly heart-wrenching. Although myself and Taiwo were not that so close, her late dad and my late dad were childhood friends and her mum and mine are also good friends, all from Igogo Ekiti. Considering her upbringing, it seems improbable that any provocation from Taiwo warranted such a brutal act as strangulation. Also, the audio clip of what transpired between them prior to the untimely death is a pointer to the animalistic, barbaric and untrained husband she had.”
British Poet Benjamin Zephaniah Is Dead
British poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who famously rejected an honour from over Britain’s empire and links to slavery has died.
Zephaniah died at the age of 65.
His family announced his demise on Thursday, in a statement on social media.
According to the statement, the poet was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.
“It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved Husband, Son, and Brother in the early hours of this morning the 7th of December 2023,” the statement said.
“Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed. We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news.
“Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator, he gave the world so much. Through an amazing career including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television, and radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy.
“Thank you for the love you have shown Professor Benjamin Zephaniah.”
Nigeria, Ghana, Six Others Receive $1.96m To Tackle Fistula
Eight member countries of the Economic Community of West African States received $1.96 million from the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre on Wednesday to tackle fistula disorder.
Fistula disorder is an abnormal connection between organs. Fistulas are usually the result of an injury or surgery.
According to the United States Agency for International Development in 2021, Nigeria accounted for 40 per cent of fistula cases worldwide.
USAID also stated that Nigeria reports 13,000 new cases of fistula per year, and as many as 400,000 women languish on waiting lists for corrective surgery.
The countries that got $245,000 each were Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia and Liberia.
The presentation of cheques to the beneficiaries was one of the highlights at the 91st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers held in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman, ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Yusuf Tuggar, stated that the Council would deliberate on the community’s budget for the 2024 fiscal year as the current economic challenges are affecting the region’s Gross Domestic Product and revenue generation.
Tuggar noted, “We must be mindful of the prevailing economic and financial challenges confronting our sub-region, such as inflation, high food prices, and currency devaluation, which have adversely affected our economies.
“These challenges have impacted our gross domestic product, revenue generation, and in particular our mobilisation of the community levy, due to the devaluation of some of our major currencies, particularly Cedi and Naira against the US Dollar.”
Urging the Council Ministers, the minister said, “Therefore, we must support the recommendations of the Administration and Finance Committee on enhancing prudence, as well as the efforts of the President of the Commission and other Heads of the Institutions on blocking leakages to ensure judicious use of our meagre resources.”
Also, the President, ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, lamented that member states under sanctions have stopped remitting levies, adding that ECOWAS needs enough financial resources to tackle the challenges bedeviling the region.
“For some time now, the levy collection has been a challenge. The amount of 0.5 per cent ECOWAS levy on imports from outside the Community has been collected by member states on behalf of ECOWAS.
“However, the deposit of these funds into the ECOWAS bank accounts at the country level and access to the funds have been a challenge. This has led to low resource mobilization.
“The situation is more critical now that our member states under sanctions have stopped remitting the levy. As the financial situation gets more difficult, the tasks for ECOWAS are growing,” Touray stated.
The president urged the councils of ministers to “mobilise the levy fully to be able to implement our community work programme and keep up with the successes of ECOWAS.”
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